"To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."

— Karl Barth

Wartime prayers and meditations enable us to be present with what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and elsewhere. As we use prayers and meditations from the religious traditions, we come into the presence of the great suffering with open hands, minds, and hearts.

Wartime prayers and meditations enable us to bear witness to many dimensions of the wartime situation:

  • with the fear and the vulnerability of soldiers on both sides of the battle;
  • with the mixture of bravado and confusion experienced by commanders in the war;
  • with the anger and the hatred of those who injure or kill;
  • with the agony and pain of those who are injured or killed;
  • with the grief of parents who have lost a son or daughter;
  • with the sorrow of those mourning fallen comrades;
  • with the worry of relatives of those missing or taken as prisoners;
  • with the anxiety and the suffering of the civilians in Iraq;
  • with the despair of those who have lost their homes and workplaces;
  • with the cries and trembling of hungry and tense children;
  • with the yelps and screeches of terrified animals;
  • with the agony of the earth pulverized by bombs and bullets;
  • with the shock of buildings blown to bits by missiles from the sky;
  • with the dismay of city streets and parks bruised and battered by the fighting;
  • with the abandonment of shot down or wrecked equipment left in the desert;
  • with the pressures felt by journalists to tell the truth about the war;
  • with the desperation of viewers around the world seeking to learn the truth about the war;
  • with the yearning of relief organizations and medical professionals to reach and assist those in desperate need of food and healing;
  • with the frustration of those who see this as a justifiable war of liberation; and
  • with the anguish of those who see it as a tragic misuse of American power.

Wartime prayers and meditations enable us to experience an ever-deepening awareness of God's presence and

  • to express our unity with others,
  • to cultivate peace and justice,
  • to manifest forgiveness and compassion,
  • to practice empathy and hospitality,
  • to find common ground with those who are different from us,
  • to reach out to all those who are helpless and hopeless,
  • to become God's emissaries of love, reconciliation, and renewal.

When the bombs first began falling on Baghdad in 2003, we started collecting prayers representative of different religious and spiritual traditions. We have created an archive of these prayers with links to the books where we found them and other prayers for wartime.

We encourage you to choose some of these individual and corporate prayers for your daily practice.

Group 1
Prayers to God as Grandfather, Sacred One, Mother of Exiles, Shelter of the Homeless, Giver of Life, Compassionate One. Acknowledgements of our brokenness, of our part in the tensions of the world, of our blindness and indifference, of our complicity in making weapons of mass destruction. Pleas for mercy, hope, truth, and reconciliation. Prayers by Jim Cotter, Barbara Crafton, Angela Ashwin, and others.

Group 2
A prayer for people in the midst of war by Barbara Crafton. Prayers for government leaders by Richard Foster; for those who have been maimed, murdered, traumatized; for the injured, disabled, and mentally distressed; for refugees; for those hiding in shelters. A teaching story about recognizing our brothers and sisters. A Peace Psalm based on the Tao Te Ching by Edward Hays.

Group 3
A new version of the Lord's Prayer by Parker Palmer. A Zen chant. A prayer for animals who are suffering by Albert Schweitzer. Prayers that we be part of the great circle and a sign of peace in the world. A litany from the World Council of Churches: "We thirst for you in a thirsty land."

Group 4
A Lord's Prayer in time of war. A prayer for truth to the God of Truth. A prayer for those on different paths. A blessing for the city and its frightened people. A teaching story about the importance of heart. A hymn for the God of all nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.

Group 5
A prayer for wholeness. A prayer for open eyes. A Jewish prayer for humanity. A prayer for help. An African affirmation. A prayer for the least among us. Chief Seattle's prayer.

Group 6
A prayer for peace from the Passover Haggadah Supplements. A prayer for forgiveness. A prayer for the ability to deal with people with kindness. A prayer for the nation, that God's Will be done for the United States, as we, the people, align with that Will.

A Litany of Unity and Hope based on the Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad
This corporate prayer was written after September 11 for use by a Christian congregation in New York City. The words of the liturgist are taken from a collection of hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) on nonviolence, peace, justice, and other subjects.